The City of Kenora and the Nature Conservancy of Canada have reached a deal for the purchase of Town Island, which is expected to remain a public area.

Kenora Mayor Dan Reynard says the deal is for $2.25 million, which he’s described as a ‘win-win’ situation for both parties.

“It’s great news. We’ll actually ratify the sale next Tuesday. It’s always been the city’s goal to move it. We tried to move it with the province, we wanted to retain it in its current state, so the Nature Conservancy is a great fit.”

As Reynard notes, over the past 10 years, the city investigated the transfer of Town Island in exchange for Crown land of equal value, within or adjacent to the city boundaries, which could have been used for development.

When it became clear the swap of land wouldn’t be happening, the city began looking for a buyer for the property in 2019, at a price of $2.9 million. It’s a good investment for the city, who purchased Town Island for a total of $47 dollars between 1895 and 1911.

In late 2019, the Nature Conservancy started a petition against the sale of the island, saying they were concerned about future developments in the area. It received over 5,000 signatures at the time, and many campers were concerned about losing access to the land over the summer months.

“The island will be retained in its natural state, and will be able to be used for anyone wanting to use the island for boating, camping. So it’s the best fit for everybody, and the Conservancy has a great track record,” says Reynard.

The Mayor says the deal isn’t expected to go through until July of 2022, as the Nature Conservancy will be fundraising to pay for the sale until then.

“We will utilize those funds to enhance development in the community, so both parties have achieved what we want,” finishes the Mayor, who says the city’s expected to clear about $2.1 million for city reserves.

On November 23, 1895, the Corporation of Municipality of Rat Portage purchased the interior portion of Town Island for $18 from the Crown. It was on March 14, 1911, that the 29 acres of shoreline reserve was purchased by the Corporation of the Town of Kenora, for a price of $29.

When the war broke out, the Town turned the property over to the Navy League for training naval personnel for war duty. At the time, several buildings were constructed on the island by the Federal government, likely on the site of the B’nai Brith camp, with an understanding that the land and building would be returned to the Town of Kenora after the war.

After the war ended, a portion of the island (approximately 100 acres, according to City of Kenora By Law 94-95) was used to establish Camp Ruttan (in 1945 by the Navy League of Canada) and was later leased to B’nai Brith in 1954 to begin the current children’s camp.

To this day, B’nai Brith Camp is the only development on the island. In November 2014, B’nai Brith purchased the leased 30 acres from the City of Kenora.

For more information:
Proceeds from Town Island will help the city, Mayor
What is the history of Town Island?